Skepti-Certainty and 9/11

Okay, let’s start with the made by very cute and very adorable twenty-somethings’ Loose Change–that link is to the 2nd edition, but a 3rd is in the works. For those of you who don’t know, this “documentary” (well, the 1st edition, anyway) lays out some pretty interesting (for lack of a better word) ideas about 9/11 and the government’s role and some rich New Yorker’s role and the media’s role and the first responders’ role in the massive undertaking of carrying out that disaster and then keeping it quiet for six years. The first edition makes some alarming claims, and it makes them with certainty, with assurance, with a tone of authority. That tone, those claims, are watered down in the 2nd edition and will be totally absent from the 3rd.

Gone will be the assertion that phone calls made by the passengers of Flight 93 could not possibly have been made because cell phones couldn’t work at 40,000 feet (they could work, in 2001, to 50,00o ft., and it turns out that all but two of the calls were made from those handy phones that are embedded in the backs of the seats. Oops.).

My other favorite conspiracy theorists’s idea is that calls were made by government and / or media representatives who were so good at imitation that they convinced the people receiving the calls that they were their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, et al. All of them so good that not one person questioned that they were saying their final good-byes to their loved ones. I’ll not state the obvious here, but I will say that it’s got to be super amusing to see these folks at their paranoid family pow-wow’s: say, Son, let’s go chat in the closet so no one can hear or vid us, we need to set up a secret word that only you and I know because if someone calls me pretending to be you, I won’t be able to tell if it’s you, my beloved son, or if it’s some random government stranger to whom I am speaking. Uh-huh. Okay, so I stated the obvious anyway. Shrug.

Gone, too, from the newest version of the “documentary” will be the “evidence” that Flight 93 was shot down: the 6 1/2 mile debris field from Indian Lake to the actual impact area. Well, as it turns out, some well-meaning conspiracist junkies googled driving (yes, driving) directions. How cute is that? Do they imagine the debris went by way of paved roads? Maybe stopped at traffic lights and yielded for pedestrians? Just makes you want to ruffle their hair and give them a cute little chuck under the chin, doesn’t it? As the crow flies, straight across fields, etc. from point A to point B, the distance is a little over 2 miles. Even the conspiracy buffs have to admit that it’s possible for debris to go that far. No more ooh’s and ahh’s from the Loose Change gang on that score.

Ironically, to me, anyway, is the other conspiracists’s use of the fact that no fighter planes were scrambled immediately or already in position to shoot down the airliners as evidence of a government plot. Obviously this group doesn’t think Flight 93 was shot down, they think that the very fact that no planes were shot down is “evidence” of the government’s involvement. These people seem to be under the impression that in that pre-9/11 world America had fighter jets circling around the nation just awaiting some sort of attack, be it terrorists taking our commercial planes or who knows, perhaps to ward off a Soviet strike? Why, pre-9/11, would we be that avid about protecting ourselves? From what (thought we)? Indeed, it seems that we had only 14 fighters in the entire nation ready to scramble, and that two of those were following the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Yes, America can and will (and should, to my mind) shoot down commercial airlines, but prior to 9/11, well, who could have envisioned a need. On our own soil? Besides, can you imagine the outcry if we HAD done so? I could write a whole blog on that alone.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the main conspiracy theorists’ argument also hinges on the fact that we don’t have pics or vid of the attack on the Pentagon as we do of the World Trade Center. Does it matter that one is in the busiest (or second busiest if Tokyo still reigns) city in the world and the other at a secured government installation? Well, no, not to these people. Logic be damned. Oh and oh again, let’s not forget that we don’t have a perfect airplane shaped hole in the Pentagon (think Road Runner cartoons); that there’s a problem. I mean we can see the wings go into the side of the World Trade Center, right? Therefore, we should see them go into the Pentagon. The steel re-enforced, ready for a nuclear blitz Pentagon would surely react just the same as a New York City skyscraper, right? I mean we protect our insurance and advertising agencies just as well as we do our seats of military and political power, right?

One of the conspiracy theorist (CT)’s biggest ideas is that Larry Silverstein ordered the destruction of World Trade Center Tower 7. Apparently Larry was heard to say to the firefighters to “cut it” (meaning the attempt to save the empty building), and is understood to have said to “cut it” (blow the thing up, or in, or whatever). Splitting hairs, really, he said to pull the firefighting teams because so much life had already been lost at that point (everything else had gone down already that day). But there were the New York offices of several government agencies, including the FBI, CIA, IRS, whatever else, so the CT’s think that the building was ordered demolished to . . . um, destroy some files or some hard drives. Huh? Oh, and let’s not forget the insurance that Larry had on the building. That billionaire really needed that policy paid, after all. And somehow, I’m not quite clear on this part, he was working in tandem with the government to collect? Or perhaps just to destroy some kind of documents of something or other (no one’s said what was meant to be concealed.). Because we all know the only way to destroy evidence is to blow up the whole building, right? Checking out porn on your pc? Burn the house down, that’ll hide it. There’s no possible way for anyone to trace it then. Um, right.

Another of my favorite CT’s ideas is that the airliners, apparently all of them, were remotely controlled by government peeps. Like those neat little model airplanes you see people flying in the park. Of course Boeing is horrified by this, the planes were commercial, older models, so even if they had that sort of technology (which I don’t believe they do), those planes were not equipped with it. And of course the remote control theory is dependent on the terrorists not being terrorists at all but instead being puppets of the U. S. government, working a training mission, a simulation, a drill of some kind. There are a thousand things wrong with that idea, not the least of which being why all these men were Saudis, etc. and not actual military personnel of whatever ethnic background. But hey, no one said logic has to play a role here, right?

The idea that the men who hijacked the planes were either government pawns or willing allies of the U. S. government’s plot to bring about the 9/11 carnage is so . . . interesting (yes, that word again, it’s never good, is it?). How did that conversation go? I know that you wish to bring glory to Allah, and the way to do that is to work for the infidels in America. You know that government, culture, lifestyle you so hate and despise? How about working a little suicide mission for it? Woohoo, we’ll give you candy and maybe a balloon. Not only that but how can we think that 9/11 was us but not the previous World Trade Center bombings, not the attacks on military bases, facilities, and assorted embassies around the world? Ultimately, then, there is no al Qaeda, no bin Laden, just us, the United States of America, controlling the world. Yummy.

Hand in hand with this idea is the elitist, Amerocentric (and Eurocentric) view that only we are capable of such knowledge, planning, skill. After all, goes this line of thought, aren’t these terrorists just economically and education deprived? Aren’t they poor and talentless and skill-less? Aren’t they essentially just barbarians? Neanderthals? Hmmm. Well, except that the leaders (both of the whole groups and of individual cells) often have Ph.D’s or master’s degrees in silly little fields like mechanical engineering, and except for the fact that they have millions at their disposal, that foreign governments not only fund but also shelter and foster their growth. And that they are clever enough to work our own freedoms against us. But hey, they’re not western and they look down on materialism and our (perceived) lack of spirituality; how backward can you get? I mean really? We’re clearly superior, right? Therefore, we have to be in charge of all that happens; it couldn’t possibly be any other way. I love my country, but this sort of underestimation of others and overestimation of ourselves makes me embarrassed.

If you care to know, the 3rd edition of Loose Change will supposedly put forth a bunch of ideas (all already in the 1st edition, though with heavy cuts, as mentioned above) about all that occurred that sunshiney morning in September 2001, and then you, the viewer, will put it together as you see fit. The “documentary” has become something else altogether, the assurance, the cockiness, the tone of authority will be gone. It will no longer have a thesis, just a set of skewed data that it repeatedly says it doesn’t stand behind.

My biggest problem with the CT’s isn’t that they are elitist, Anglocentric, close-minded, dead certain that they and only they know what really happened, but that they discount American patriotism and just plain human honor, morals, ethics, decency, and valor. The Holocaust didn’t happen folks have only recently made enough noise that they’re being heard, but these 9/11 didn’t happen or if it did it was a U. S. government conspiracy folks are making noise, lots of it, and sure there are questions to be asked, still questions to be answered, but to suggest that there are thousands upon thousands of people working for federal, state, and city agencies–along with media folks and everyday I carry my digicam wherever I go people, like us bloggers, who’ve not had a twinge of conscience, not a twinge of patriotism or morality or ethical goodness in the past almost six years . . . well, it defies logic.

Even if all those people needed to make a conspiracy possible could be kept quiet (and our government doesn’t have a history of keeping even a blow job quiet, nor its desert-based testing facilities), wouldn’t someone anyone want to make a bazillion dollars for blowing the top off this? Make a book? A movie? Meet Oprah? Maybe the noble among them don’t exist, but I have to believe that anyone base enough to keep the deaths of thousands of Americans at our own hands silent would be base enough to want to make some money out of the deal. And wouldn’t they just come off like they’re doing it for their country, in the interest of truth, justice and the American way? Wouldn’t they say they’re really really sorry and go to rehab? Or would they really just say no, no, no?

What say you?

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